I’ve been commuting to college since September, something I’ve touched on in previous blog posts. However, tonight I feel like listing out the different types of people who, I think, all commuters will encounter sooner or later. And, depending on the encounter, the time of day, and whether or not you’ve had your morning coffee, these people could actually make or break your day.
1. The Personal Space Invader
There’s one on every train. You can forget about using that armrest, PSI beside you isn’t relinquishing that chunk of shiny white plastic for love nor money. They need it so that they can read their newspaper in such a luxuriant way that, if the window actually opened, you’d be hanging onto the frame for dear life. And when you meet these considerate souls on the bus, you will end up losing the circulation in one side of your body because the PSI insists on using your arm and leg as extra cushioning for the journey. For such commuters, a fly swat would be a handy addition to my handbag.
2. The Germ Distributor
There is always one, no matter the time of year. And come November, there are, like, twenty on every bus. I personally don’t know which is worse, the sniffler who hasn’t figured out that the cure to their ills lies in a travel pack of Kleenex, or the Kleenex owner who appears to be trying to empty the contents of their cranium into said Kleenex. And nothing is more likely to put me off my morning coffee than the serial cough merchant, especially of the smoker variety. God, I love listening to someone hacking up a lung at 7am. Special mention goes to the coughing fit commuter, and the machine fire cough that gives you heart failure with its sharp, sudden onslaught. Just knowing that you’re breathing the same air as the GDs is enough to make one feel a little queasy. And the best part? By next week you’ll probably be joining their ranks.
3. The Dawdler
‘Oh, I’ve just stepped off the train. I better stand here for thirty seconds while I gather my three bags and pick up everything I’ve dropped. Oh dear, lots of people are pushing into me. Why are they doing that? Perhaps I’m in the way. Maybe I ought to move…’ This is their thought process and, like the rest of them, it moves at a glacial pace. This is the same person who enjoys asking the bus driver plenty of terribly necessary and completely not unrelated questions while holding up the train. And then, finally, they start to fish around for their purse. And yes, it was a fantastic idea to bring all their coppers to Dublin to pay for the bus. Nobody minds waiting while I count them out, surely.
I like kids. They’re fine, in every context except commuting and busy restaurants, unless they are asleep or being distracted with food. They cry, OHMYGOD they cry. I know it’s kind of an integral feature but it’s really, really the last thing I need to hear on the train home from a busy day. They wander, they poke, they prod, they try to grab your phone with their Coke-sticky fingers. Although, what I enjoyed less, on one memorable occasion, was one harassed mother’s attempt to discipline her adventurous daughter by grabbing her sharply by the cheeks and pulling her head to and fro. That actually made me a little bit sad. But if parents could refrain their kids from raising hell on the 6:15pm to Westport without resorting to physical injury, that’d be greeeaaat.
5. The Argument Mongers
We’re all tired. We all just want to be at home. Really, we do. The whole rigmarole would be so, so much easier if everyone just remained their antisocial, politely distant selves. Cheerful little retorts such as ‘I heard you the first bloody time’, ‘Keep your hair on’ and ‘That bollox…’ are really not conducive to a peaceful atmosphere at 5pm on a packed train. And no, really, I don’t want to be dragged into it, thanks. I’ll just sit here with my earphones in so I don’t have to listen to you mutter away to yourself about not doing favours for anyone again. Fleetwood Mac is a bit more pleasant to listen to.
6. The Diners’ Club
Something that commuting has taught me is that I hate the smell of Special K. I’ve had the misfortune of sitting next to the same woman on numerous occasions who likes to breakfast on the morning train. Now I could tolerate this if she would just eat the blasted stuff and get rid of it. But no, heavens no. Out come the plastic tubs of cereal and milk, and the plastic spoon. The Special K is left to sit there in warm milk for a few minutes while its owner consults her spreadsheets. It is then mushed up a little bit, then more spreadsheets. Finally, she eats it, while I’m feeling decidedly queasy and trying not to breathe through my nose. Other culprits include curry chips and tuna sandwiches. Bleurgh.
Well, I really can’t wait for tomorrow morning.